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Protect Your Solar Panels from PID: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Updated: Feb 27


PID in solar panels

You invested in solar panels expecting decades of clean energy and reduced bills. But a hidden threat called Potential Induced Degradation (PID) could undermine your investment's return. Imagine losing solar panel efficiency over time— that's what PID can do. Don't worry, we're here to clear things up and make sure your solar system maintains peak performance.


What is Potential Induced Degradation (PID)?

Potential Induced Degradation (PID) is a performance-degrading phenomenon that can occur in solar panels subjected to long-term, high-voltage stress. Here's what you need to know:


PID arises from stray electrical currents within the solar panel. These currents gradually disrupt the delicate internal structure of solar cells, reducing their ability to efficiently convert sunlight into electricity. While PID may start with subtle effects, it can lead to significant power losses over time – up to 30% in severe cases. This degradation diminishes the expected return on your solar investment.


PID is fundamentally caused by the movement of charged particles (ions) within the solar cell under high voltage stress. These ions interfere with the cell's photovoltaic function, compromising long-term performance.


Understanding PID is essential for preserving the longevity and efficiency of your solar system. By being aware of its causes and the factors that influence PID susceptibility, you can make informed choices regarding solar components and installation strategies to minimize this risk.


Where Does PID Occur in PV Modules?


PID Occur

To grasp where PID strikes,  you'll need to visualize the heart of your solar system. Here's the breakdown:


  • It Starts with the Solar Cell: Think of solar cells as the tiny powerhouses within your solar panels. It's these cells, and their carefully layered internal structure, that are prime targets for PID's destructive forces.

  • The 'Ground Zero' of Degradation: PID essentially messes with the cell's ability to turn sunlight into electricity. This disruption often centers around the cell's negative end, fueled by high system voltages causing charged particles to move where they shouldn't.

  • Chain Reaction: Think of your solar panels as links in a chain. PID starting in even a few cells can drag down the performance of an entire panel. Moreover, since your whole solar system is interconnected, underperformance in one area will ripple outward.

Technical Insights (Unpacking the Voltage Factor):

  • Why Voltage Matters: High-voltage systems (common in large solar installations) create the strongest electrical potentials that drive PID. Typical systems might see an overall voltage of 1000V, distributed unevenly across numerous solar panels.

  • Inverter Influence: The type of inverter you use plays a major role in voltage distribution within your system.

  • Transformerless inverters tend to be riskier than inverters using a transformer. Without that separation, a larger portion of your solar cells could be subject to high negative voltages.


To picture PID risk, envision the electrical stress put on each individual cell. The greater this stress, the higher the likelihood that those tiny powerhouses within your panels start to falter.


Factors that determine if a PV system is subject to PID

Not all solar systems are equal when it comes to PID risk. The following factors create a 'perfect storm' scenario, heightening the chances of this panel problem hitting your investment:


  • Voltage is King: Think of voltage like pressure in a water pipe – the higher it gets, the greater the force trying to create leaks. High-voltage setups (1000V and above) are most susceptible, especially those tied to powerful inverters needed for large commercial solar or even ambitious home systems.

  • Climate: Your Enemy: PID gets a double boost from hot, humid locations. Heat energizes the very particles that cause damage, while humidity is like adding fuel to the fire, helping those particles get around and spread the harm.

  • It Starts with the Components: Unfortunately, not all solar panels are built alike. Those made with lower-quality materials can be inherently more susceptible to PID. Invest in trusted manufacturers known for PID-resistant components for greater peace of mind.

  • System Setup Matters: The way your entire solar system is configured plays a part. Factors like grounding techniques and the type of inverter (transformer vs. transformerless) can strongly influence the likelihood of developing PID.

It's Not Just About Your System (External Factors):

Blame the Weather: If you're installing in a region known for both high heat and humidity, be extra vigilant in choosing PID-resistant materials and working with an installer who understands mitigation strategies.


Worried about PID's hidden risks?  Don't take chances with your solar investment. Contact our experts today for a complimentary PID assessment and let's safeguard your panels' performance. 


Ways to mitigate PID effect

When it comes to PID, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here's your game plan for safeguarding your solar system's peak performance:

Be Proactive from the Start

  • Seek Out Resilience: Partner with installers who prioritize PID-resistant solar panels with proven records. Don't shy away from asking about the manufacturer's measures to combat this issue.

  • Grounding is Key: Ensure your solar system is expertly grounded to prevent those dangerous voltage buildups from ever occurring. Insist on an installer who meticulously follows best grounding practices.

  • Inverter Insight: Opt for transformer-based inverters whenever possible. While transformerless designs offer advantages, they come with a higher PID risk for many systems. Weigh the pros and cons against your system setup.

Vigilant Monitoring Saves the Day

  • Wattage Watch: Keep a close eye on your system's power output. Sudden or sustained drops could signal PID trouble in the making. Investing in a monitoring system can provide early alerts.

  • The Recovery Option: Some types of PID are reversible! If you suspect PID, consult with a qualified solar professional to discuss potential recovery treatments. Swift action can help restore a portion of your lost efficiency.


Don't gamble with your solar investment! Contact us today to explore how we can shield your system against PID and maximize the return on your clean energy decision. 


FAQ

How long does PID take to show symptoms?

PID is sneaky. Symptoms can take months or even years to become noticeable in your solar system's output.

Does PID affect all solar panels?

Should I worry if my system is a few years old?


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